Kirchick claims that
“[a] not insignificant portion of liberals in this country believe that a small group of Jews, er, the "neocons," took control of the government following 9/11 to fight wars on behalf of Israel. Is not this slander as odious as the Internet rumors about Barack Obama?”
Is he asserting that accusations against the neocons are implicit attacks on Jews? Neoconservativism is a well-established ideology, and its acolytes have had a major role in developing the disastrous foreign policy of the Bush administration. That’s a simple matter of record. Is Kirchick attempting to deny it? That many of the neocons happen to be Jewish I regard as a source of great embarrassment, as should anyone who looks carefully at the record and recognizes the gigantic damage those arrogant clowns have caused this country and the world. To twist the well-deserved condemnations of the neocons into a threadbare excuse to change the subject by crying antisemitism is, I suppose, predictable in the sense that the people who got us into Iraq have been anything but honest about their responsibility for the disasters they’ve caused, but it’s certainly not convincing.
Kirchick attempts to accuse Joe Klein of antisemitism, which is kind of silly, given that Klein is Jewish himself and has stated clearly his own support for Israel in the very post being cited, as well as in this followup to it. Klein is making a serious argument that right wingers have tried to suppress by drowning it out with the antisemitism charge. Daniel Levi has an expansion on that argument here. Has Kirchick forgotten that it was considered axiomatic among such neoconservatives as Richard Perle (he of Douglas Feith's Office of Special Plans, for those suffering from amnesia) that the road to Jerusalem runs through Baghdad? Joe Klein didn't make that up.
Kirchick goes on to raise the various mentions of Nazism and fascism as supposed examples of hate speech, when in fact they all refer to the charming combination of hypermilitarism, hypernationalism, action for action's sake, corporatism, contempt for civil liberties, contempt for democracy and anti-intellectualism that William F. Buckley himself long ago identified as key components of fascism, all of which are easily identifiable elements of the Bush-Cheney (and neocon) world view and resultant policies. If Kirchick and his ideological soulmates don’t like being identified as such, maybe they ought to take a good look in the mirror and change their thinking. Their ideology is pernicious and we all have the proof.
“Have the journalists now bemoaning the low tactics of the McCain campaign and its supporters never set eyes upon the wildly popular Huffington Post? That Web site hosts countless angry rants, many examples of which are too vulgar to document in a family newspaper. In 2004, Nicholson Baker wrote a novel imagining the assassination of President Bush. Last week, Fox's "Family Guy" depicted Nazis donning McCain-Palin buttons.”
Pardon me for finding preposterous a comparison between comments of bloggers and those of the leading GOP candidates. It is precisely the fact that a long series of sleazy comments impuning the patriotism of their opponents and insinuating evil motives to Obama are coming from McCain and Palin themselves that is so astonishing and troubling. Please don’t try to tell me that bloggers have influence in any way commensurate with that of the top candidates of one of the two major political parties. That dog won’t hunt. And what the hell does a book of fiction by Nicholson Baker have to do with any of this? He’s not involved in the campaign at all, as far as I know. His book came out 4 years ago. What’s Kirchick smoking? And the last time I looked, Fox was nobody’s idea of a liberal media outlet. Boo hoo—a cartoon depicted McCain & Palin as Nazis—or anything, for that matter. Does Kirchick seriously intend to claim equivalence between this and cries of "kill him" at McCain-Palin rallies?
Regarding Kirchick’s attempt to depict the situation as one of rough equivalence between two opposing groups of campaign supporters (thereby, as usual, attempting to obscure the crucial difference that on the GOP side, the rot starts at the top), read this & see if any of it sounds familiar.
I reiterate: The GOP has a history of hate-mongering and character assassination that is unparalleled in modern American political history.
UPDATE: On the other hand, Kirchick's piece can also be seen as a mistimed attempt to restart the sputtering GOP outrage industry, something that was running on high gear until McCain won the GOP nomination. A few months ago, Kirchick could have depended on a great deal of synchronized huffing and puffing about the perfidy of liberals to drown out complaints from those liberals about insinuations of treason issuing directly from the top of the GOP ticket. Now, however, Kirchick’s gambit simply looks desperate—and more than a little absurd. The entire country has seen the two candidates side by side, with McCain grimacing, refusing to look at Obama or address him by name, ping ponging from campaign suspension to photo op to campaign suspension while Obama has remained calm and steady. The polls now show a popular verdict on the two candidates’ choices of running mates, and it is clearly to the advantage of Obama. The result is that McCain is increasingly seen as risky, and Obama the candidate of security. In that context, hyperventilating about the outrageous conduct of liberals comes off as a giant nonsequitur.
For anyone in need of a humor break, here’s a great post on the GOP outrage machine by Michael Kinsley from a little over a year ago. (Its original title, “How Dare You,” was much better than the one on the Time website.)